How to Grow Your Own Hops
Do you want to take your Home Brewing to the next level? One of the basic ingredients in beer is also very easy to grow. Hops will thrive in most moderate climates. Learning how to plant and care for Hops is easy and rewarding.
The hop plant is a hardy perennial plant. It will grow vines annually from the rootstock. These vines will grow up to 25 feet each season and die back after the harvest. The rhizome is part of the rootstock but posses the buds for propagation. Under good conditions, each hop vine will produce 1/2 to 2 pounds of dried flowers.
Steps to Growing Your Own Hops
Once you have chosen which hop variety you plan to grow, Adventures in Homebrewing will ship them to you when they are ready. Unfortunately, Hop Rhizomes are harvested when the climate is right for harvesting. This may not always coincide with good planting conditions in your particular growing zone. So don't be alarmed if there is still snow on the ground when your rhizomes arrive. Upon obtaining the rhizomes, they should be stored wrapped in a plastic bag. This is also the way in which they will be shipped. The rhizomes should be slightly moistened, but not wet, and kept in a refrigerator or cool place. This will keep the moisture in and keep the light away from the rhizome. They will keep in this state until you are ready to plant. Once your growing zone is past any danger of frost, you will be safe to plant. Planting Your Hops
Where to Plant Hops
Choose the location in which you want to plant your hops. The area you choose will need to get at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. In addition to sunlight, your plant will also need the following: Twine for the hops to grow on. (A bine is a climbing plant which climbs by its shoots. It is distinct from a vine, which climbs using tendrils or suckers.) Hops need vertical space. The bines may stretch 25 feet or longer into the air. Possible ways to grow your hops are on a tall trellis near your house, or a tall pole using hop twine. Planted hops will grow well on an 18-foot trellis and can grow vigorously when limited to 12 - 15 feet of trellis. Choose a spot with good drainage.
Prepare Your Soil Before You Plant Your Rhizomes
The soil should be loose and free from large clumps. Remove any debris, such as stones and weeds. Remove all weeds near the root to prevent the weeds from returning. Fertilize the soil with bone meal or blood meal and make sure the soil is loose and worked at a depth of 12 inches or more. Create a mound of soil for each rhizome that you will be planting, about 3 feet apart so they have plenty of room to grow. If you plan to grow more than one variety of hops, plant the mixed varieties at least 5 feet apart.
Planting the hop rhizome
Dig a 4-inch hole in each mound and lay the rhizome into the hole horizontally, with the root side down. Loosely pack the soil down over the plant and cover with straw or mulch to prevent weed growth. Keep the soil consistently moist until the vines begin to sprout.
When Your Hops Start Growing
Gently wrap the bines around twine or a trellis. When the bines emerge, they should grow about 6 inches. At this point, they need to be "trained". You will need to continue training the bines for a few days. They will begin growing clockwise around the trellis, vertically on their own. Don't be afraid to remove damaged or weak shoots. This will allow more room for the healthy bines to flourish. 4-6 bines should grow from each hop plant. After a few months of growth, trim the leaves off the bottom 2 feet of the bines. This prevents the plants from getting damaged by diseases or fungus.
Caring for Your New Hop Plants
The bines will begin to grow tall and strong. It is important to keep the soil around the plants free from weeds. Water the hops every day so that the soil stays moist, but not drenched. Continue caring for the hops in this way until late summer, when it's time to harvest them.
Harvesting Your Hops
Harvest the hops. The harvest date will vary depending on your location and your season. It is safest to lower the bines in order to pick the flowers. Gently twist the ripe hop cones off as they ripen. If some ripen more quickly than others, leave the ones on the bine that still need time to ripen. Once you cut the bines, lay them down flat and pull off the cones. Cut the bines to an inch above ground level and cover with mulch until next season.
Drying Your Hops
Place the ripe hops on a flat surface out of sunlight in a single layer. After they lie like this and begin to dry, flip them over to allow the other side to dry. Continue this process until drying is complete. The Hops are done drying when the inner stem (string) is brittle and breaks as opposed to bending. Pack the hops in an airtight container and freeze until they are to be used.
Choosing A Hop Variety
Although most varieties will thrive if you are in a temperate region, there are a few variables you should consider when deciding on a variety of hops. If you are planting your hops simply for their aesthetic value, then you are really free to choose any variety you please. If you are in an area that sees a shorter growing period, you may want to plant a vine that will develop more quickly, allowing you to enjoy your plants for the longest possible period. Hops are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho residents please check local restrictions.
Cascade is an aroma-type cultivar. Developed by open pollination of a Fuggle seedling. Cascade is the most popular variety in craft brewing and is known for having a unique floral, spicy and citrus character with balanced bittering potential. Aroma: Medium intense floral, citrus and grapefruit tones.
Centennial is one of the most popular varieties in craft brewing. It can be used for bittering and aroma purposes. It is often referred to as a super-Cascade (containing nearly double the alpha content) and can be used for bittering purposes. Aroma: include lemon and floral.
Chinook is a good dual purpose hop. In recent years, it has found favor as a dual purpose hop in the craft brewing community as a result of its spice and pine aroma characteristics. Aroma: include grapefruit, spice, and pine.
Used for bittering mainly, good flavor. Columbus Hops are used in IPA, Pale Ale and Stouts. It is a high alpha variety and is primarily used for bittering purposes. Aroma: include black pepper, licorice, curry and subtle citrus.
Comet is a dual purpose hops, its high alpha acids provide both great bittering and assertive aroma notes. Know for its unique "wild American" aroma with notes of grass and grapefruit. Aroma: grassy, grapefruit, "Wild American".
Bred in 1983 by the USDA, Crystal is a triploid aroma-type cultivar from Hallertau Mittelfrüh, Cascade, Brewer's Gold and Early Green. Popular among craft brewers due to its versatility in a variety of beer styles. Aroma: include woody and green, Earthy, Herbal
Fuggle was once the most prominent English hop. It accounted for 78% of production in 1949. The variety is now grown in the United States, primarily in Oregon, and displays slightly stronger characteristics than the English version. Fuggle is often compared to, and used in conjunction with Golding hops. Aroma: include mild, wood, grass, and mint.
England's finest hop. Balanced bitterness. Mild, very pleasant floral aroma. Some spice. Moderate yielding, English aroma type. Grows well in mild, moist climates, does okay in hot climates.
It is a high alpha cultivar and is often used as the base bittering variety. Magnum does not display any distinct aroma characteristics, however, subtle spice and fruit characteristics have been noted by some brewers.
Mt. Hood is a triploid aroma type cultivar with similarities to German Hallertau and German Hersbrucker. Aroma: include herbal, pungent and spicy.
Northern Brewer has an herbal, wood and peppery aroma that is suitable for any stage of the brewing process. Aroma: Specific aroma descriptors include evergreen, wood and mint.
Nugget can be used as a bittering hop. It has pleasant, mild, herbal aromas. Minty bittering and good "green hop" aromas. Taste great in a Session IPA and Red IPAs. Aroma: Mild, pleasant, herbal aromas.
Bred in 1990 and released in 1998, Sterling is an aroma variety with noble hop characteristics. It shows moderate tolerance to powdery mildew and has good pickability of compact cones. Aroma: Specific aroma descriptors include floral, citrus, spicy and herbal.
Displays fine, noble characteristics with a slight spiciness and is typically used in lager and pilsner style beers. US Tettnang is grown in Washington State and Oregon. Aroma: Specific aroma descriptors include noble characteristics.
Willamette is a seedling of English Fuggle. Once was the most widely grown aroma variety in the US. It is named after Oregon’s Willamette River which runs through the heart of the state’s hop growing region. Aroma: include floral, incense, and elderberry.
Although genetically different, Zeus is often referred to as part of CTZ along with Columbus and Tomahawk®, a trio of similar hops. Aroma: Specific aroma descriptors include pungent, black pepper, licorice, and curry.
Our Rhizomes are guaranteed for success! Adventures in Homebrewing sells the best quality Rhizomes available, our goal is for you to have a thriving Hop Garden! If you follow our Planting Instructions and maintenance recommendations your Hop Plants should thrive.
We offer a no questions asked guarantee. We will replace your Rhizomes if they do not grow.
Adventures in Homebrewing can supply you with the needed Hop Twine as well!
Learn how to grow and harvest your own hops. Download this free Hop Growing Manual or read our step-by-step article below (also available as a PDF). Also be sure to check out our wide selection of Hop Rhizomes. Get them while they last!